Arizona looks to sweeten China ties

By Hong Xiao and Zhang Yu'an in Providence, Rhode Island | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-07-19 10:36

The governor of Arizona, a former CEO of an ice cream chain, is looking to scoop up more trade with China.

Doug Ducey, a Republican who was elected governor of the Grand Canyon State in 2014, is the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, the ice cream parlor chain headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona.

By the time he and his business partner sold the company in 2007, the brand had grown from a local shop to more than 1,400 locations in all 50 states and in 10 countries, including China.

"My background is in the private sector. The ice cream company was my business; we opened our first international stores in Shanghai and Beijing," Ducey told China Daily in an interview on July 13. He spoke on the sidelines of the 2017 National Governors Association (NGA) Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.

"The trade between the US and China is healthy. We would love opportunities to sell more to China, and other opportunities for investment in both of our countries," Ducey said.

Arizona and China had two-way trade worth more than $3 billion last year, "but we would like to grow that", Ducey said.

Even Chinese who have never traveled to the US have heard how spectacular the Grand Canyon is.

Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park, one of the first national parks in the US, welcomed nearly 6 million visitors in 2016.

"People like to come, to look, to hike and raft the Grand Canyon ... it's something people around the world know, so we're proud of it," Ducey said.

Ducey said tourism is a major industry for Arizona, "simply because it's such a beautiful state; it has over 300 days of sunshine a year, incredible mountains in the northern part of the state and beautiful golf courses".

Ducey said the state's relationship with China is broadening.

According to data from the international trade administration of the US Department of Commerce, China was Arizona's No. 4 export market in 2016, worth $1.2 billion, after Mexico, Canada and Republic of Korea.

Arizona imported $2 billion worth of goods from China the same year.

Located in the US Southwest, Arizona shares a border with California, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Mexico.

The location gives the state access to three of the world's largest economies - California, Texas and Mexico.

The state's major industries include semiconductor manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing, defense (missile manufacturing), electric and mining.

Other than traditional industries, the state is home to a surging ecosystem of global giants, early stage entrepreneurs and tech-savvy millennial talent who are breaking new ground across a wide range of industry growth sectors.

While the national average of per capita income going to taxes is 9.9 percent, the number in Arizona is 8.4 percent. Arizona's taxes on property, gas and personal income are low compared with the rest of the country.

A recent study by the American Investment Council indicates that Arizona may be one of the best environments for a small business.

Arizona is also nationally known as a top state for workforce quality and availability, ranking No. 2 in the country and No. 1 in higher education opportunities, which attract Chinese students, according to the state Commerce Authority.

"We have great public education in Arizona State University, which is the largest university in the US. And we have the University of Arizona in Tuscon, the Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff," Ducey said.

"We have thousands of young people from China in our state's public universities ... and we love the exchange programs, and we love having them as full-time students, and we want to expand that trade envelope," he said.

Ducey believes there are lots of trade opportunities between China and Arizona, "including public and private partnerships in our semiconductor, electronics, aerospace, defense industry, mining and ores".

"So I think from the franchise business to the aerospace and defense businesses, we would like to do more business with China, with China's businesspeople," he said.

Ducey said he looks forward to Arizona building a closer relationship with China, because "when it comes to winning in the global marketplace, relationships matter".


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